Words fail to properly describe the sensation of floating above Glacier Bay National Park in a six-seater plane. Fear, bewilderment, joy, and gratitude were among the emotions vocalized by the guests, staff, and crew of National Geographic Sea Bird, but this experience was far more than an intense emotional stimulant. To fly over Southeast Alaska is to gain an acute awareness of your own mortality, the fortitude of the organisms that call this place home, and the sheer force of glaciers.

From high above Haines, we were all witness to the splendor of Southeast Alaska. Braided rivers carry the rudiments of the mountaintops out to sea. Ongoing runs of Pacific salmon are visible from hundreds of meters above as they disturb the water’s surface. Then, of course, there is the ice. Ice is the architect of this archipelago, and the call of the cold beckons even the weariest of travelers. As the glacier below us diverted into arms that sprawled out to lands unseen, we could not help but wonder what lay beyond those ridges. For all who choose to partake, Haines proves itself a place where the spirit of adventure is rekindled.

But the true beauty of this place lies in the fact that excursions are also readily available on land. Those on the ground had the pleasure of fly fishing, guided cycling tours, floating along the intricate network of rivers, learning about the town’s history while walking around and observing daily life. There is a little something for everyone in Haines…and a lot of Haines to go around.